February 15, 2007
HOME SCHOOLED STUDENTS AND ACCESS TO SCHOOL SERVICES
By: Soncia Coleman, Associate Legislative Analyst
You asked if a local school district has the right to deny services to home schooled children. You also wanted to know Washington's law on this issue.
Connecticut's compulsory school attendance law permits parents to not send their child to a local public school if they can show she is receiving equivalent instruction elsewhere (CGS § 10-220(a)). The State Board of Education (SBE) interprets the law to allow parents to educate their children at home as long as they show they are providing an education program equivalent to that specified in the law.
There is no state law that gives children the right to participate in the public education system while being home schooled. However, nothing prohibits a local or regional school board from allowing home schooled children to participate in extra-curricular activities or dual enrollment.
The State Department of Education (SDE) points out that allowing such enrollment or participation raises a number of issues, such as proper immunization and health assessments, enforcing sports eligibility requirements (such as a “C” average rule), imposing discipline, liability issues, and the prospect of private school students requesting the same services.
Washington law requires the board of directors of any school district to permit the enrollment of and provide ancillary services for part-time students who would be otherwise eligible for full-time enrollment in the school district (RCW 28A.150.350(2)). The definition of “part-time student” includes both (1) students enrolled in a private school and taking courses at or receiving ancillary services offered by any public school not available in the private school and (2) any student receiving home-based instruction that includes taking courses at or receiving ancillary services from the local school district (RCW 28A.150.350 (1)(d)). The term “ancillary services” includes a number of things, such as health care services and sports activities.
It should be noted that home-schooling in Washington is much more regulated than it is in Connecticut. Washington sets requirements for home-schooling parents (that they must meet certain education requirements, be supervised by a certified teacher, or deemed qualified by the superintendent) and requires that parents who are not home schooling in connection with a private school extension program file an annual notice of intent and maintain standardized test scores, academic progress assessments, and immunization records. Students must also have their progress evaluated, either by a certified teacher or with a state approved standardized test. In contrast, Connecticut law does not mandate any particular procedure for allowing or regulating home schooling. Connecticut home-schooled students and their parents may voluntarily submit to an annual review of a portfolio of the students' work by the school system but they are not required to do so nor are they subject to the Connecticut mastery testing or other testing requirements applicable to students enrolled in public schools.